Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mas Vino!

Do you know what this is? It's a whole case of wine, y'all! For my birthday, my parents gave me a gift card to a wine shop back home and I cashed in this past weekend! I was looking forward to trying a myriad of different varietals so I sought the assistance of the wine purveyor in this cellar. And let me tell you, this was a true cellar. John could not stand up straight and there was wine as far as the eye could see. She hooked me up with some of everything and I also chose some local Ohio wines to try as well. I happen to really like Ohio wines although I'm sure a true connoisseur (I had to look up the spelling of that. And I pride myself on being a good speller but I could not figure that one out on my own) might turn their nose up at a Niagara or Catawba. Whatevs. Mama like. So stay tuned for full wine reviews in the coming weeks. John thinks this case will last quite awhile. Silly rabbit.

In other booze news......did you know they make sweet tea flavored vodka?? I discovered this at a tiki bar on vacation. The drink of the day was sweet tea vodka and lemonade. An alcoholic Arnold Palmer! Now, vodka is not my favorite because if I have too much, it gives me a wicked hangover. Moreso than any other alcohol. But this concoction was delightful! Plus I only had 1 1/2 drinks. Not enough to do any real damage. It was very refreshing. John claims he's seen this vodka at our local liquor store. If that's true, I don't know why we've never bought it before. We love us some sweet tea! This is on the shopping list for next time for sure.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunction

Over the next couple months, John and I will be spending multiple weekends back home with family for a myriad of reasons. While we don't love that 3 1/2 hour drive (especially with Sadie sitting on my bladder), we do like seeing family and friends and spending time in our hometown that seems so changed since we left. When we head north, we typically bunk with my in-laws. This is fine except when it comes to pajama time. At home, I just throw on whatever is clean and comfortable. It usually involves some sort of lounge pant and a tank top. Said tank top does not typically have a shelf bra. It's just more comfortable without one, okay? I'm not very well-endowed in that area so I feel like I can get away with it, except in mixed company.

Sitting around the breakfast table with my two teenage bros-in-law and my husband's parents is not really the time to be hanging free. It's also not the time for a low cut tank top for fear of a nip slip (that's right, I said nip slip). "Can you pass me the syrup? And also would you care to see more of my lady parts than you bargained for?" This has not yet happened to me but I'm afraid it will. So, what I'm left with is wearing a t-shirt, which results in some serious free boobin', or a tank top sans shelf bra which may result in a nip slip. Neither choice acceptable.

You can understand the direness of the situation, I'm sure. So, when I was in Florida, I continued my hunt for a non-spaghetti strap tank top with shelf bra. I wanted something cotton, not too tight, and with thicker straps. This, to me, was not a tall order. My mom even said it could be part of my birthday present. You know what that means. Free! But folks, we went absolutely everywhere looking for this very specific top. Much to my chagrin, I was thwarted at every turn. Even a large set of outlet stores could not present this holy grail of PJ. Did you know that they just don't make tank tops with thicker straps and shelf bras? If you know where to get one, PLEASE let me know.

However, we eventually found what both mother and daughter deemed to be a suitably modest top at TJ Maxx. I believe it's probably a yoga top but that means it fits the aforementioned bill. It's a racerback and it's tie-dye, which I wouldn't normally wear (tie dye, not racerback. I love a good racerback tank because I'm pretty into my shoulders these days and a racerback perfectly accentuates them....I digress) but I think it's pretty cute. Well, I put it on tonight after my shower and upon closer inspection, I thought you could see some nip. BLAST! I asked John for a second opinion. He confirmed that the top did not show anything it wasn't supposed to but that the coloring on the tie-dye on the right side is very precariously placed so that it looks like you can indeed see something that takes breakfast from PG to Rated R in a hot second. At least it's comfortable, even if I can only wear it in the comfort of my own home. The search continues..... And fast! Our next trip is for Mother's Day in less than 2 weeks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Little Bee

I started Little Bee by Chris Cleave before vacation. Not wanting to carry along multiple books, I opted to leave it unfinished (horrors!) at home and return to it upon my return. This book was recommended by a blogging lady who read a book a day for a whole year. Maybe you didn't know, that's 365 books! My paltry numbers (20 so far!) don't hold a candle to that but I figure if you read that much, you must know what you're talking about. That's why you all love my book reviews. Right?

Anyway, Little Bee is the tale of a Nigerian teenage refugee in England. Little Bee is finally able to leave the detention center she's been held at (because she's illegal) for two years. In England, she is in search of a couple she met on the beach at a horrible time in her life. The book is set in 2007, during an oil war in Nigeria where many were massacred. Little Bee is also told by Sarah, the wife in the couple Little Bee met on the beach when they were on holiday in Nigeria. The circumstances of their chance encounter are horrifying and they will be forever beholden to each other because of this tragic event.

I'm sorry that's not much of a synopsis. I was taking a page from the book jacket which has even less of a synopsis than I've just given you. I really enjoyed this book, even though it was filled with sadness and tough topics. Cleave's creation of both Little Bee and Sarah is so thoughtful. If you're looking for a book that is pretty heavy, check out Little Bee.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Didja miss me?

I'm back! I don't really think that deserves an exclamation point though because I'm not very excited about it. Vacation was great and really hard to come home. Especially since it's a gray and rainy day in Ohio and only in the 50's. We had lots of good relaxation time. I didn't get burned and we even saw dolphins on a boat ride.

Watch out yo, this blog is going multi-media. (I hope this works. Sorry if it doesn't.)

That is me whistling. The tour guide told us that dolphins respond to noise so everyone clapped and cheered and it worked! We saw many dolphins. That was really neat. Next time, swimming with them! Not really, just sayin'.

My sundresses were perfect for the trip too. I felt very summery, especially with my matching headband. That was the best part! See? I'm not really that wide on the bottom. The wind was blowing my dress back funny, honest. And I did end up cutting it above my knees but you can't tell.

Let me tell you something about vacation though. It is a total calorie-fest. It's so hard to stay healthy. I did my best but my best was pretty sad. I think I ate my weight in fried fish and desserts. Loves me some fish and chips! John and I have vowed to skip our end of the month weigh in so we don't feel totally derailed. Maybe that's a disservice to ourselves but we make the rules.

We also went to a couple wineries at home with John's parents. That was great fun. More wine posts later this week. Don't worry! So, I hope you're all happy I'm back to blogging.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


If I could figure out how to blog on my iphone, I wouldn't be leaving you. Sadly, I cannot and will be here for the next week. Sunshine and happiness to you all in my absence!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Losing Mum and Pup

Although I didn't think Losing Mum and Pup would be a very uplifting memoir, I am a fan of Christopher Buckley's and so I checked it out from the library anyway. Christopher Buckley's parents passed away within a year of each other. Losing Mum and Pup is the recanting of their illnesses and how the time in between transpired. His father, William F. Buckley, was a major player in the Conservative movement, professor, author, TV host, and loving father. His mother was Patricia Buckley, a New York socialite.

I figured this would be a pretty depressing tale but Buckley, being the humorist that he is, interjects laughs wherever possible not necessarily to get a laugh but because many of the stories recounted about his life, especially his time with his father, are funny. I'm sure there are a lot of people who were already familiar with Pat and William Buckley but I was not. Losing Mum and Pup offered up a real sense of two wonderful people as told by the person who loved them most. This was a pretty quick read but I enjoyed it. I think probably because I enjoy Buckley's writing as it is. If you've never read anything by him, I'd start somewhere else. But, this is worth picking up if you're already a fan.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh. baby!

It has come to my attention that I've neglected to write about some very exciting news in my life lately. I say lately but I've known since Thanksgiving sister is pregnant!!! This is her first baby and the first grandchild on lots of sides of the family. One of the reasons I hadn't blogged about it yet is that I was waiting to find out the sex of the baby. I also refrained from purchasing anything baby related until this news came too. This was a difficult feat, to say the least. It didn't stop me from looking but let me tell you, baby stuff is expensive, yo. I always think baby clothes should be $3.00. This is rarely the case. Not that the baby isn't worth it. It's just that I need to be judicious with my selections.

I not so secretly was hoping for a girl. I prefer girls (hello, I am one) and selfishly, I was thinking of all the sewing I could do. How many dresses could I make for this little munchkin? If I were a betting woman, I would have lost. IT'S A BOY!!! Though I wanted a girl, I'm excited for this little guy to make his entrance. He doesn't have a name yet, poor guy. And that yarn that I did buy back in December that I thought was unisex but is pretty decidedly feminine will no longer do. But, this is a Texas baby, y'all. He doesn't need 20 knit blankets. I have it on good authority that there are other family members knitting blankets so I think I'll go a different route. I actually might try my hand at a lightweight quilt. I've never quilted before so we'll see.

I'm having fun researching all of the other things besides dresses that I could make. My sister has requested lots and lots of hats. Preferably that look like animals. Like a hat with bear ears on it. I'm working on those but I just couldn't pass up this fabric on Sunday. It's a stretch cotton and I think would make a cute little hat. I'm not sure if I'm advanced enough at making a sleeper or something out of this. I've never sewn stretch fabrics before. First time for everything right? First baby for B, first stretch fabrics for me. Is that a fair trade?

Anyway, super cute, right? She's not crazy about writing on baby clothes but it's a small print so I think it'll be okay. I hope he likes whatever I come up with!

Baby S. Arriving August 2010......Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Since The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson has been an international best seller for years, I got it from the library without knowing a single thing about the plot. All those people can't be wrong, right? This is the first in a series that only contains three books because Larson died well before his time. Just so you know, this is a mystery/crime thriller.

We meet Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist about to be sent to jail for libel, in Sweden. We also meet, in a roundabout way, Hans-Erik Wennerstrom, the mogul Blomkvist is supposed to have committed libel against (do you commit libel against someone? Anyway, he's the one Mikael wrote about without being able to divulge his source). There's Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo) a curious hacker with a photographic memory who does private investigative work for a security firm and is pretty badass in general. And lastly (because there are too many others to keep straight), we meet Henrik Vanger, former head of the Vanger Corp. who has spent the last 30 years obsessing over the mysterious disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger. I'll just tell you now, there are a number of characters.

Now that you've met some of the characters as well, that's all I'll tell you. Here's why, during the first 75 pages of this, I almost gave up. Then, the plot got interesting. There was a lot of back story. A LOT! This little morsel of plot kept me going for another 75 pages and by then I was hooked! Could. Not. Put. It. Down. The way Larson intertwines all of the characters was riveting. If you're looking for something thrilling, stick with this one and you won't be disappointed. Keeps you guessing until the very end.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fabric Relapse

Despite the fact that I promised myself I would not go to JoAnn's, I could not stay away. The sale was calling to me. My gift card was burning a hole in my wallet. My car drove itself there. I spent a good hour in the fabric aisles. That's right, an hour. You may or may not know that home improvement stores like Lowe's, etc. make me instantly sleepy the second I pass through those automatic sliding doors. I want to nap on the lumber until whatever errand we've ventured there for is complete. JoAnn's, however, is the absolute opposite of that. I am invigorated in that store. Instant energy. I love looking at all the bolts of fabric. And even though there's usually a long line at the cutting center, I like hearing what everyone else is making too. I digress.

I purchased this black and white wavy dotted fabric intended for a dress that I pray will fit over my hips. I took this picture sideways. The print will actually be vertical.

I also fell in LOVE with these umbrellas. There was a smattering of Asian inspired prints and I just kept coming back to this one. I'm making a blouse with it, although I haven't settled on a pattern yet.

And last but not least, this fiery paisley which I think has a bit of an Indian flair to it. This is going to be a blouse as well. I've already cut it out so it's next to be sewed after vacation.

So, I'm on a sewing hiatus until we get back from Florida. I've got packing to do instead.

Also this weekend, I had a birthday party!! It was great fun. I think everyone liked all the food and drinks and we played Catch Phrase for something like 2 hours. I used to think I hated that game but it was a lot more fun than I remembered. It doesn't get played a lot with just me and John since we gravitate towards Scrabble and Sequence. But, it really lends itself to a larger group. And I wore my new skinny jeans which I think look pretty good on me. At least I hope they do! It's good to be 27.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blouse Blunders

Lately, for some reason, I have been obsessed with short sleeve blouses. I think because the weather is warming and I can comfortably wear them without freezing. Plus, I'm pretty tired of what's been in my closet and I'm not loving the full-priced spring tops in the stores so, I'm expanding my wardrobe with my sewing skills.

Simplicity Built By You Pattern #3835 caught my eye and seemed easy enough. Famous last words. I really have a fitting problem. I'm getting ahead of myself.

My focus is on the blouse in the middle, not the backwards looking tunic on the left, or the dress I may consider making in the future on the right. I liked this blouse because it seems so simple. The sleeves and neckline are gathered with elastic which I thought would add some interest.

I needed to go ahead and use up one of the fabrics in my stash that I recently purchased. It's a black and yellow floral hawaiian print. I am slightly obsessed with black and yellow clothing, much like my obsession with short sleeve blouses. I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Anyhoo. I had plans to wear this on my upcoming Florida trip, because I am not typically all about the Hawaiian prints but it would be apropos in Flo, no? Not surprisingly, this is one of those fabrics that, despite it's awesome colors, I was only lukewarm about by the time I got it home and had sewed (read: screwed up) projects with my other purchases.

Anyway.... once again, I decided to cut this in a 10. I even measured the darn pattern this time to be absolutely certain it would fit. Lesson learned the first time, right? Well, I got it sewed up and was about to deal with the elastic bands when I put it on and the darn thing wouldn't fit over my hips. Blast! The arms sort of fit but they didn't have any gathers yet.

Here's where the real trouble starts. By the time I finished the sleeves, the arms were too tight around my bulging biceps and I needed assistance getting the blouse off! I really wish I could get a perfect Ashley dress form. Having to constantly strip down to make sure your project fits while sewing is a pain! Defeated by the tight arms, I threw the blouse aside in disgust. When a string of obscenities is flying in the sewing room (read: dining room), John just starts shouting things out from the spare bedroom/Xbox lair such as, "It's ok. Everything can't go right all the time. I bet you can fix it." These things aren't really calming. I gave up for the day.

Refreshed and confident, I returned to my machine knowing I could make this blouse wearable. I cut vents by the hips so it would lay flat and I nixed the elastic in the sleeves. They don't need no stinking gathers! And what do you know? It fits! Again, I didn't feel like taking off my clothes to photograph me in it but here is my chair doing a fine job as a stand in model.

I don't know how much use I'll get out of it but I think it'll look nice in Florida, and perhaps I want to feel tropical at the office.

Lesson learned again for next time? Regardless of what the pattern measures, cut a 12.

A couple days ago I promised myself I would sew up every last bit of fabric in my stash before purchasing anything new. Some of them are more than 2 years old and I just haven't found the right pattern for them. Then, as fortune or misfortune -- you decide, would have it, this weekend starts one of Joann's big sales! What am I to do? I promised. But I am addicted to fabric. It's like a drug. A healthier and probably just as expensive habit ( Though, I don't know the going rate for actual drugs these days.) I'm working out a compromise with my conscience. I got a gift card to Joann's for my birthday and I feel like it might be okay to spend that. I do need some fabric for a time sensitive project so at least I'd be assured of sewing that up right away. Dilemma.....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's my birthday!

I'm off celebrating with steak, presents, and CAKE! Back tomorrow with an exciting blouse story. No, really. Riveting stuff.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sundress Numero Dos

Remember that smock topped sundress with the big red flowers on it? I made another one! This is black and white paisley. Fabric is from Joann's. This could not be easier. Side seam, hem, DONE! But, I need your opinion. Because it's not a full-length maxi dress, and I already have the other longer one, do you think I should cut this off to my knees? I think it would be cute as a shorter dress. Also, at this length, I can only step about 2 feet, instead of my normal length stride. Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking tiny little baby steps here. It can just be slightly inhibiting. As in, if I had to break into a dead sprint while wearing said dress, I'd have to hike her up.

So, what do you think? Short or long? Please vote on the right-hand side there!!! I can re-hem it before I leave for Florida since it goes lickety-split.

Also, check out my new shades. They're Calvin Klein. I got them for $17 at Marshall's. SO ready for the beach!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

I hope you all had a wonderfully sugar-charged Easter. We didn't do much here at Chez G. The Easter Bunny brought me a PedEgg. Am I the last person in the world to acquire one of these? I feel like they've been on the shelves forever. Was I finally influenced by television marketing? Those women in robes sitting on the sides of their tubs, scraping away the dead skin on their heels. Is that what did it for me? Not really. The Easter Bunny brought me a PedEgg because he knows I want to keep up my soft feet between pedicures. I don't get pedicures often. Only once or twice a year. In fact, my next pedicure will be had in Florida, 13 days from now! I didn't want the nice Asian woman painting my nails to be utterly disgusted by my feet. Thus, the PedEgg.

Have you ever used one of these before? I was under the impression that they were battery operated. You know, so all you had to do was hold it up to your foot and it would slough away the skin. Oh, no no. How wrong I could be! This thing is manual, yo. So, you scrape and scrape with a cheese grater looking file and when you're finished, you open up the egg to reveal some of the nastiest business you have ever seen. That's right. All your dead skin in a little pile. Thanks, PedEgg, for holding onto this for me! Once you get past the gross part, the PedEgg does a decent job. I got it on sale for $8.00 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Totally worth it.

Now that you're all hungry. I want to pass along a delightfully refreshing dessert recipe. This is what I served on Easter knowing that I would be having plenty of fatty desserts this week for my birthday. It's a Lemon Tart with Blueberry Sauce from Eat Better America, which means it's low fat, low cal, high on flavor. Try it out!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Sharper Your Knife

The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears at the World's Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn is one of those books I picked up at random off the shelf at the library. It also has an incredibly long title. Not really knowing what to expect, I dove in. This memoir follows Flinn's journey from being laid off to enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in France to fulfill a lifelong dream. Along the way she finds love, in life and in the kitchen.

Fun fact I learned from this book: Le Cordon Bleu has nothing to do with Chicken Cordon Bleu. It's simply French for blue ribbon. C'est vrai!

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. It was a pretty cute story and I really liked Flinn's writing (she's also a journalist by trade). This was kind of a cross between Julie and Julia and Eat, Pray, Love in that it combines cooking and a soul searching quest of an experience. It's also peppered throughout (cooking pun intended) with recipes from her time at school. These all seemed too difficult for my cooking skills; I'm no blue ribbon chef. But, they were interesting to read nonetheless. This memoir is a few years old but should you happen upon it in the stacks, it's worth the quick read it will bring you. It also made me long to go to France.

P.S. This was my 16th read for 2010!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's April, fools!

I couldn't be happier that the first quarter of the year is behind us. January, February and March are rather dreadful months, in my opinion. I'm sorry if you were born in any of those months. They are not my cup of tea. I much prefer the warmth of spring and summer and the crispness of fall. Winter? Not so much.

I think April is going to be super fantastic for a few reasons.

1) My birthday!!! It's coming up this Wednesday. I'm not one of those to get all hung up on age. I'm still young, of course. I just LOVE cake. Cake is my favorite dessert. Maybe you didn't know that. So while I use others' birthdays as an excuse to eat cake, it tastes best on April 7th. And for leftovers over the next few days. Oh, and if it's your birthday cake, there are no calories in it for you. Double thumbs up!

2) My birthday party!! I can't even remember the last time I had a birthday party. I distinctly remember my 21st birthday. It was a Tuesday. What a bummer! But, I didn't have a party. I think my last birthday party must have been in my early teens. Nevertheless, I'm hosting a Mexican Fiesta for myself this month. Two kinds of sangria, creamy jalapeno dip, and of course, cake. What is the Spanish word for cake? Ole! (not really, help me out on this one, C)

3) FLORIDA!!!!!!! That one gets a lot of exclamation points. I haven't had any time off from work since New Years Day. Far. Too. Long. John and I are going to Ft. Myers to visit my parents for almost a whole week. Hopefully I will come back relaxed, rejuvenated, and perfectly golden brown like a s'more. (yeah right!)

See? Lots of excitement in Ashley's life. Things are looking up.